“Aye, Aye! You’re right. Bless God for sense like yours! When I left the world,” the Bishop smiled at the phrase, “they were talking a good deal about the ‘new woman.’ If you are one of them, I am a convert right now and here.”
“Flattery! Still is there no escape from it, even in the slums of Chicago?” Felicia laughed again. And the man’s heart, heavy though it had grown during several months of vast sin-bearing, rejoiced to hear it! It sounded good. It was good. It belonged to God.
Felicia wanted to visit the Settlement, and went back with him. She was amazed at the results of what considerable money an a good deal of consecrated brains had done. As they walked through the building they talked incessantly. She was the incarnation of vital enthusiasm, and he wondered at the exhibition of it as it bubbled up and sparkled over.
They went down into the basement and the Bishop pushed open a door from behind which came the sound of a carpenter’s plane. It was a small but well equipped carpenter’s shop. A young man with a paper cap on his head and clad in blouse and overalls was whistling and driving the plane as he whistled. He looked up as the two entered, and took off his cap. As he did so, his little finger carried a small curling shaving up to his hair and it caught there.
“Miss Sterling, Mr. Stephen Clyde,” said the Bishop. “Clyde is one of our helpers here two afternoons in the week.”
Just then the bishop was called upstairs and he excused himself a moment, leaving Felicia and the young carpenter together.
“We have met before,” said Felicia looking at Clyde frankly.
“Yes, ‘back in the world,’ as the Bishop says,” replied the young man, and his fingers trembled a little as they lay on the board he had been planing.
“Yes.” Felicia hesitated. “I am very glad to see you.”
“Are you?” The flush of pleasure mounted to the young carpenter’s forehead. “You have had a great deal of trouble since—since—then,” he said, and then he was afraid he had wounded her, or called up painful memories. But she had lived over all that.
“Yes, and you also. How is it that you’re working here?”
“It is a long story, Miss Sterling. My father lost his money and I was obliged to go to work. A very good thing for me. The Bishop says I ought to be very grateful. I am. I am very happy now. I learned the trade, hoping some time to be of use, I am night clerk at one of the hotels. That Sunday morning when you took the pledge at Nazareth Avenue Church, I took it with the others.”
“Did you?” said Felicia slowly. “I am glad.”
Just then the Bishop came back, and very soon he and Felicia went away leaving the young carpenter at his work. Some one noticed that he whistled louder than ever as he planed.
“Felicia,” said the Bishop, “did you know Stephen Clyde before?”
“Yes, ‘back in the world,’ dear Bishop. He was one of my acquaintances in Nazareth Avenue Church.”